We were the champions (Nostalgia No 200)
By Godfrey Chin
Stabroek News
November 5, 2006

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The jubilant West Indies team after winning the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004

West Indies won the World Cup in 1975 and 1979, and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004. Can the defending champions earn another double? Love is wonderful the second time around,¬ and winning the 2006 Title could be the 'tipping point' for the West¬ Indies to re-establish itself as a 'world cricket power.'

As a nostalgia buff, preserving the great moments in our culture¬ and sport history, I share my jubilation of that moment in time when we proudly celebrated a great victory.

Celebrate is inadequate to describe the joy, the jubilation of the West¬ Indies Championship win of the ICC title in September, 2004.¬ A Caribbean Carnival Bacchanal, is more appropriate to describe¬ how 16 maroon-clad, Caribbean Cricket Cavaliers, rushed to swamp and huddle with their¬ No 10, Bradshaw, who had scored the most glorious square drive boundary, in the annals of Caribbean cricket!

The impossible had been achieved.¬ When Chanderpaul was caught at 147 for 8, not even¬ our most positive, optimistic fan, could have had the slightest hope that our Nos 9 & 10, whose total match average, was less than double figures could muster half of what the previous¬ eight batting stars had made. The target -¬ a Mount Everest 71 runs to win!

The ICC officials immediately started to prepare for the presentation ceremony. The Awards Trophy table was set. The bookies ready for the payout of bets - favourites England to win.¬

The¬ English Captain¬ Michael Vaughn checked his pocket for his anticipated victory¬ speech that he had prepared the night before.

Bradshaw joined Browne at the middle and they 'su-sued' with each other for¬ a minute, making their plans. The underdog Apaches had Geronimo¬ and Cochise. The West Indies¬ braves were now¬ Bradshaw and Browne. The Barbados buddies looked competent¬ and professional.¬ Neither was senior partner,¬ but both¬ set about to tame the English hurricanes, Harmison¬ and Gough.

Lara¬ and¬ his¬ team sat in the visitors' paddock like Tom Doolies, heads hung low and ready to cry. Sarwan had¬ changed to¬ a white t-shirt, in abject resignation.

Clive Lloyd, dressed in an immaculate pin-striped suit, sat in the Officials' Box with a grim

scowl on his face. Yesterday's hero,¬ now in dismay, that a reachable 218 was near,¬ yet so far.

But the West Indian fans, dressed to the neck like Eskimos in weather better suited for¬ XM¬ Extra Mature¬ rum, waved their national flags applauding every single¬ and occasional boundary.

When the television score-flash, showed the¬ pair at 34¬ and 35 respectively, the¬ comparative chart

showed West Indies'¬ scoring rate

as better than England's but the underdogs had only two wickets in hand.

The English fielders expected a wicket to fall with every delivery, like full-ripe sapodillas.¬ A miracle game-stop, like a volcano or earthquake, would have declared¬ us winners under the Duckworth Lewis rule. Rain stoppage? Not possible, the match was in¬ England

not at Bourda.

Our Numbers¬ 9 and 10 were racing to overtake Chanders' 47 top score.

Our tail-enders, previously ridiculed and¬ bad talked by their own fans had suffered 'nuff eyepass', abuse and name calling like "rotten-thread, lamatas and kankawas", refused the Umpires' offer, to return the next day because of¬ bad light.

The natives hooted and blew their horns like Vikings proclaiming¬ their pagan Gods. At 200 for¬ 8, a brother Rasta,¬ amid the boisterous sea of Caribbean national flags, raised his hand heavenward giving thanks¬ to Jah yet¬ pleading like Moses for delivery of his¬ people.

I sensed a millennium miracle was about to happen! Could fowl-cock get teeth? Could law¬ and order be achieved in¬ Buxton or Agricola again? Or could dem¬ 'split peas'¬ bring peace to the Guyanese pod someday? Could the USA's Miracle on the Ice vs favourite Russia be repeated?

The score inched forward.¬ Runs needed, equal balls remaining,¬ and¬ vice versa. It was nail biting; "nara, ning-ning and belly wuk time.¬ The sun came out for a brief moment to herald some spectacular achievement. Stars had appeared in the East over 2000 years ago,¬ at another miracle.

This time in 2004 - it was the re-birth¬ of West Indian Cricket heralded by¬ a glorious Christmas square drive boundary. What a joyous gift to the Caribbean, reeling from the fury of the recent hurricanes!

The West Indies emerged from¬ their recent stables, to a stellar honours lap - flags¬ unfurling in a tropical hurricane¬ fury at the Oval. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Michael Jackson¬ dances were surpassed by¬ our joyful troubadours executing soca, reggae,¬ tramp, mash, zeg, zouk, wine, jump-up and breakdance as the homesters looked in surprise, but cheered with respect and appreciation.

It was cricket lovely cricket at the Oval, where I saw it. Lara's fielding was divine; the whole team's play was sublime; with those little pals of¬ mine - Bradshaw and Browne - their names don't rhyme!

As Lara held the trophy aloft, and champagne flowed like Kaieteur, I reflected that this moment was only experienced in our cricket history once before in December 1960, when Joe Solomon plugged the wicket square-on, to bring about the first¬ Test Tie in cricket vs Australia.

I have followed the West Indian Team since Gubby Allen's MCC Tour in 1947; shared their victories¬ and lamented their losses and recent decline. This day in September, 2004 was redemption and payback time!

Thank heavens, I had the opportunity to view the match,¬ ball by ball, at Chico Khan's residence in Orlando, Florida. And when it was all over, I could raise my hand and proclaim¬ to the¬ approaching Hurricane Jeanne: "Okay, now ya could come¬ and tek me."